Vincent Lambert was involved in a near-fatal car crash in 2008 that left him a quadriplegic with severe brain damage which doctors say is irreversible.
Since then, he has been kept alive artificially, sparking a years-long legal struggle between his deeply Catholic parents, who have fought to keep him alive, and his wife and doctors, who say the humane option is to let him die.
On June 28, France’s top appeals court ruled doctors could begin removing the life support in a process that began last week despite frantic last-minute efforts by his parents Pierre and Viviane.
“We have nowhere else to turn and now it’s too late. Vincent is dying,” they said in a statement sent to AFP through their lawyers, adding his condition was now “medically irreversible”.
“Throughout the last week, we made a huge effort to try and ensure that the suspension requested on Vincent’s behalf by the UN committee on disabled rights was respected. But it was in vain,” they said.
In May, a UN committee on disabled rights, based in Geneva, asked France to keep Lambert alive while it conducted its own investigation into the matter. But the French government rejected the request as non-binding.
Both parents were at Lambert’s bedside on Sunday after doctors began removing his water and feeding tubes while ensuring a “profound and continuous sedation”.
“It’s murder in disguise, it’s euthanasia,” 90-year-old Pierre Lambert told journalists at Sebastopol hospital in the northern town of Reims, where his son has been in a vegetative state since 2008.
Denouncing the court decision as “madness”, the pair believe their son is merely handicapped and have fought to have him moved to a specialist treatment unit.
A group of supporters who oppose the ending of life support were to have held a demonstration in Paris Monday, but called it off at the last minute after Lambert’s parents said his death was “now unavoidable” and they were “resigned” to accepting it.